Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at UCLA in 1965. A recording of the long-lost speech was discovered in a storage room of the university’s communications department a released to the public a year ago today.
The similarities to the climate of the nation was strikingly similar to the time we are living in today, more than 50 years after the great civil rights leader spoke these very words.
Following the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, the streets filled with protestors. Time after time in the following months, African-Americans died at the hands of those sworn to protect them. Eight months later, Freddie Gray died in the back of a police van, sparking days of widespread protests.
These events saw the birth of the Black Lives Matters movement. America is once again taking a long hard look at the reality of race relations in our country, particularly when it comes to the systemic racism that plagues our criminal justice system.
According to Paul Von Blum, a senior lecturer in UCLA’s communications department and in African-American studies, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his speech, the nation’s frustrations about the stagnation of social justice and civil rights were very similar to those felt in 2015.
“In 1965, a lot of people in the civil rights movement had become restless about the lack of progress,” Von Blum said. “So there was an increasing militancy to the movement.”
The folks at AJ+ put together a powerful video featuring an inspiring excerpt from his 1965 speech at the UCLA campus. The blend of historical and contemporary pictures that flow through the background make the similarities even clearer and the words of Dr. King echo hauntingly.
The question of whether we are making any real progress in the area of race relations. Now there are some people who feel that we aren’t making progress. There are some people who feel that we are making overwhelming progress. I still have the faith to believe that we shall overcome. Before the victory is won, some more will get scarred up a bit. Before the victory is won, some more will be thrown into jail. Before the victory is won, many will be misunderstood and called bad names simply because they are determined to stand up. I would like to take what I consider a realistic position and say that we have come a long, long way in the struggle to make justice and freedom a reality in our nation, but we still have a long, long way to go.
Watch the video here for yourself via AJ+:
Featured image via video screen capture.